UAF hockey

The Alaska Nanooks hockey team poses with the Governor’s Cup trophy after defeating Alaska Anchorage to win the season series Saturday at Sullivan Arena in Anchorage.

 

FAIRBANKS — The streak lives on.

For a second there, it looked like the Alaska Nanooks hockey team might be in trouble. 

The Nanooks trailed the Alaska Anchorage Seawolves in the fourth and final game of this year’s installment of the Alaska Airlines Governor’s Cup.

But UAF rallied with a pair of power-play goals in the third period, earning a 2-1 victory over UAA on Saturday at Sullivan Arena in Anchorage.

The win clinched the cup, as the Nanooks held a 3-1 advantage over their Western Collegiate Hockey Association rivals during the seasonlong series. It also marks the 10th straight year that UAF has captured the cup against UAA.

“It was an unbelievable comeback,” first-year Nanooks head coach Erik Largen said after his team finished the regular season 12-19-3 overall and 12-14-2 in WCHA play. “It was one of those things that if we could get the first (goal), we felt like we could get rolling after that. We just had to find that first one.”

Tyler Cline evened the score at 1 with a power-play goal 11:31 into the third period. Kylar Hope netted the game-winner when he scored on the man-advantage at the 14:40 mark of the frame.

Although Corey Renwick bested UAF goaltender Anton Martinsson (24 saves) to give UAA a 1-0 lead 2:13 into the second period, the Nanooks players never felt like they were out of it.

“Guys weren’t hanging their heads,” Largen said. “They were working hard. Thankfully we were able to get the first one, and I think that motivated the guys to get the second one.”

So, after winning the Governor’s Cup for a 10th consecutive season, is it safe to say the Nanooks have the Alaska hockey scene on lock?

“I think that’s pretty safe to say,” Largen said. “Ten years ... I mean, there’s so many things that can go wrong in a series. You get a hot goaltender, the puck doesn’t go your way or you take some injuries or something.

“It speaks to the tireless effort of all the people before me and the work they put into the program. I’m just thankful I get to play a small part in it.”

UAA (3-28-3, 2-23-3-2 WCHA) goaltender Kristian Stead made 22 saves in defeat.

Up next for Alaska is a trip to Marquette, Michigan, for the first round of the WCHA Playoffs. 

The Nanooks will be the No. 7 seed, and they’ll meet No. 2 Northern Michigan University in a best-of-three series next weekend in Marquette.

Largen said his squad will be riding high after closing out the regular season with three straight wins.

“I think it’s a good way to go into the playoffs,” he said. “We just played a playoff series, basically, against Anchorage.”

Contact News-Miner sports writer Brad Joyal at 459-7530. Follow him on Twitter: @FDNMSportsGuy.